Paul J’s Story: You Begin Where You Start And Then Just Work Like The Devil To Get From There.

I received an email out of the blue late last year that went something like this:

I don’t know if you can help or not but I’m looking for help with a strength programme specifically aimed at improving cycling performance.

My background, and where I’m looking to improve, is with endurance cycling, specifically 12 and 24 hour events. I’ve had reasonable success over the last couple of years with a 5th and a 4th place in the national championship and an age cat win and I’m looking to build on that for 2017 and to really focus on achieving my target distance of 500 miles for 24 Hours at next years championship in July.

Is this something that you’d be able to help with? If you can then could we arrange a time to meet up and have a chat about it,



We planned a meeting at my office in the gym a few days later and upon shaking hands, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Paul and I were (roughly) the same age. Or, at least, he was closer to it than most of my customers are, most of them ranging down to half my age…and sometimes a lot less than that.

One of the downsides of being in a line of work like mine for long enough is that you eventually wind up being the oldest guy in the gym. That is, if you manage to hang on that long.

Most people quit when they get to a self defined, circumscribed deadline. Mature athletes are an interesting group because they fight against this depressing habit. They like being grizzly old survivors. It’s a point of pride and keeps life worth living, I guess. Training and competition are vital ingredients in their lives in order to help them do that.

Individuals who find themselves relegated to the “masters” categories can’t depend  on the mythical unlimited indestructibleness and energy of youth anymore. They must, by necessity rely on the other resources left to them: their wits, experience, sometimes their stubbornness and occasionally a quality that I like to call “ruthless optimism”.

1) Tell us something about your sport and why you chose it?

I got into cycling when I hit 40 purely as a way of trying to lose a bit of weight and get into shape a little. It was totally for leisure and I had no idea at the time that there was such a thing as competitive cycling on the island. I combined it with a bit of running for a while but had to give that up because the high impact nature of the sport was causing me hip problems. It didn’t cause any issues while cycling so I stuck with that as my chosen sport.

2) How long have you been competing?

I was encouraged to start competing by a work colleague around eight years ago. My chosen discipline is time-trialling which is you against the clock over various distances. Although you’re competing with other riders its as much about beating your own previous times as it is about beating your competitors. Initially I only raced locally but soon started racing in the UK and I’ve competed in France, Spain and in Australia at the UCI Amateur World Championships. As time went on I realised that I was getting better results at longer distance events than in the shorter ones so have concentrated on events of 100 miles and over in the last few years.

3) What records do you hold? What are some of the awards and trophies that you have won?

I hold various time trial and road race records locally, mainly age group ones now but I did hold the local 25 mile record for a short time last year which was particularly pleasing for me as it’s the blue riband event in cycling. I also hold the local records for 100 mile, 12 hour and 24 hour time trials. I won the UK national title for the O40s 24 hour time trial in 2015 and the age group title for the same event in 2014. I competed for GB in the World Amateur Cycling Championships last year where I came 10th in the time trial.

4) What’s your training regimen look like and how do you apportion your time between endurance and resistance training.

The majority of my training takes place on the bike and depending where I am in a particular training cycle I train on the bike either five or six days a week. This could be endurance work, resistance/strength training or speed work. I incorporate gym work into rest days where I can and initially was training in the gym three times per week. I have reduced this to twice per week now racing season has arrived but will increase it again in the off-season.

5) What purpose does the gym serve in your training strategy? What has training in the gym help you to accomplish and improve on that wasn’t happening with the conventional training for your sport?

The gym has been a new thing for me this year and I’ve seen marked changes in my physiology and improvements in strength, power output and comfort on the bike because of it. I did a bit of leg strength work in the winter months although this was fairly minimal because most of my leg work comes on the bike. My focus in the gym this year has been on core work, back strength and muscular endurance but I do plan on doing more leg strength work during the next off-season. I saw marked improvements in one of my team mates following a winter of gym work and it’s not something that many people seem to do in cycling but it’s definitely helped me in many areas of my sport.

6) What are your goals for the future as far as fitness, training and competition is concerned?
My immediate competition goals are to achieve a best distance in a 12 hour time trial I’ve entered in June and to achieve 500 miles in the 24 hour event in July. My plan for next year is currently to compete in an ultra-endurance event in Italy which will be another step up from 24 hour racing.
7) Please comment on your experience at Bodyworks.

BodyWorks gym is a great environment for people who are serious about improving themselves without the fuss and frills of some gyms. Alex is on hand to offer advice and support if you need it but he’ll always let you just get on with what you’re doing if that’s what you want to do. I originally had the consultation where I explained what I was aiming to achieve and Alex gave me the initial guidance I needed to start me on my way and I’ve not looked back since. It’s a no nonsense, friendly environment for people who just want to get their heads down and work.


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